With a national unemployment rate of 16.5 percent for Black people as of January 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, jobs are becoming more limited and harder to find. With the 2010 Census coming, the Census Bureau is offering thousands of jobs that pay great and offer flexibility to accommodate anyone.
|DOING HIS PART—A resident fills out the census form from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“These jobs are great opportunities for people who may have jobs already and are looking for extra income or for those who are unemployed and looking for a job,” said Pamela Golden, media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau. “They are ideal for people who like to work with the public and who work well independently.”
Every 10 years the census is taken to count every resident in the United States. It is used to help determine federal funding for communities, for hospitals, schools and public works project. It can also determine the number of seats for a state in the House of Representatives, as well as the state legislature.
“The census is very important because when people do not fill out the form our voices are not heard. It helps with funding and how it’s distributed. If we do not fill it out, we (as African-Americans) can fall into the population that gets undercounted and under represented,” Golden said.
According to Golden, the region will consist of offices in three local areas—Pittsburgh, Greensburg and Beaver. She said that the bureau is looking to hire 1,000 individuals in Pittsburgh alone, and 2,000-3,000 jobs in total are available for all three areas.
A majority of the jobs that are looking to be filled are census takers, the individuals who collect census information from those who have not sent their form in, which will be sent out in mid-March, due back by Census Day, April 1. When residents do not return the form, takers will go door to door to collect and record the information. Golden says census takers can earn $15.75 per hour. The bureau is also hiring for Crew Leaders, who train and supervise a team of enumerators who can make up to $17.35 per hour. There are also limited jobs available for clerks and crew assistants. Each job offers paid training.
Golden said although the jobs are temporary and only last several weeks to a few months depending on the position, they are great opportunities and individuals get to work close to home and a vehicle is not required. She also said, “It is very important for people to call on their friends, family and people in the community to participate in the census. So that is why we are looking for people from the community for these jobs—what better way than to have someone from their own community?”
Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, said, “Even though these are short-term jobs, they are very important and help represent our community. They also give an opportunity to gain work experience and to work in one’s community and with one’s neighbors.” Bush is on the census committee and National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial is on the national census committee. She says the Urban League is promoting the census and their jobs and that it is very important for individuals to participate and honestly complete the form because the results are very important.
M. Gayle Moss, president of the Pittsburgh Branch of the NAACP, was contacted for her comments on the job opportunities and the national NAACP’s promotion of the census, but failed to return the call.
To apply for census jobs, individuals must first be 18 or older; take and pass a basic skills test within a 30-minute time period; and pass a background check. The census does offer a practice version of their test online and allows individuals the opportunity to retake the test and will take their highest score. When taking the test, you must also bring two forms of identification.
Golden said she encourages people to apply as soon as possible, because training sessions will begin in March. They are promoting jobs in radio advertisements, at job centers and even at local churches.
“With the number of African-Americans unemployed or underemployed, these census jobs are a great opportunity. Who gets what for federal dollars is based on census numbers. It is in our best interest as people of color to have our numbers compiled and not in our best interest to be under represented,” said Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project. “One of the things we are doing at B-PEP is pushing civic engagement and that is right in alignment with the census. This is a great way for the unemployed to take advantage of the opportunities and to perhaps gain skills in the process. They can gain knowledge, gain good work habits and even a recommendation for future jobs.”
(Those interested in applying for jobs can call the national phone number at 1-866-861-2010 or the Pittsburgh office, located on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, at 412-770-3380.)